Just like with every detail of your wedding, choosing a photographer is a very personal decision. There are many photographers to choose from and comparing your options can get overwhelming. The good thing is that with so many photographers available you do not need to settle on someone who does not 100% satisfy your style, budget, and personality. We wrote this guide so you can understand some of the basics and know what to look for and what to avoid when shopping for a wedding photographer.
How to Choose a Wedding Photographer: Photography Style and Consistency.
Let’s start with the basics. A good wedding photographer should have many examples of their work. When you visit a photographer’s website, you are likely to see a series of great photos usually shown in a slideshow on the home page. Wedding photographers do this to grab your attention (we do it too) with hopes that their style will intrigue you enough to hire them. The issue is that every photographer who has done a few weddings will have 5-10 photos that they consider their best work. However what separates an average photographer from a great one is consistency.
A wedding day can be unpredictable. A good wedding photographer should be able to adjust to the constantly changing setting, lighting, and speed to produce great images even in less than favorable conditions. If a photographer does not have multiple examples of full weddings on their website, ask to see an extended portfolio showing a variety of weather, setting and lighting conditions. This will help you to ensure the photographer covering one of the most memorable days of your life can produce beautiful work consistently, and not only in perfect outdoor portrait conditions.
An extended portfolio can also show you that a photographer is consistent with their style. An artistic style is usually the #1 reason you would get excited about a photographer, and examples of different weddings can confirm that this style is carried over throughout all of the photographer’s work. Remember, it is easy for someone with 1-2 years of experience to have 10 good looking shots, but true mastery of wedding photography can only be shown through a magnitude of examples. Ask to see 5-10 weddings to assess the overall style and performance.
How to Choose a Wedding Photographer: Pricing, and what’s included.
Once you find a few photographers with a style that suits your expectations, you need to make sure they can provide all the services you are looking for and meet your budget. If a photographer does not list their pricing and packages on the website, send them an email asking for a guide. But be careful when reviewing all the options because even with detailed descriptions of packages some key information might be omitted. Here a are a few things that we found to be important to our clients that are often not listed in package descriptions.
- Printing rights: does the client retain the right to print the photographs using 3rd party services and does not need to order prints through the main hired photographer. If these rights are not included, how much do they cost and what is the pricing for prints.
- High-resolution digital files: if printing rights are included does the process of receiving print quality files included?
- Presentation: Are the final pictures uploaded on a google drive or dropbox, USB, CD, online album? If an album is part of the package does the client still receive digital copies?
- A typical quantity of images: It can be hard to judge an exact amount of photographs that are presented as the final result but a photographer should tell you an approx amount of photos that you can expect to see based on the duration of the coverage.
- Editing: What does the editing process include? Is it simple color and light adjustment or retouching and fine-art editing. How long does the editing process take?
- Total Coverage: Is the number of hours selected enough to cover all the important moments? Will there be prep photos before the ceremony? How about the end of the day send-off? Is there a shot list or a timeline that can be reviewed? Will there be a 2nd shooter to make sure that everything is covered?
In discussion with our peers, we often find that couples are surprised with additional fees for services they assumed were included, so do not be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to clarify all details before committing to a photographer.
You may also want to ask about additional services that might be of interest such as:
- Additional hours of coverage
- Photo booths and other photo entertainment activities for the reception
- Slideshows of ceremony and day of portrait photo presentation at reception
- Guest comment book or large print
- Wedding album options and pricing
It is important to find out availability and pricing of these common services and products prior to signing a contract because often these can be grouped together for a discount. Perhaps you can fit more services in your budget than expected.
How to Choose a Wedding Photographer: Social Presence.
An active wedding photographer is constantly working. Many photographers have a wide social media presence that shows what they are working on in the off seasons. This can show you that the photographer is serious about the art of photography and that wedding photography is not just a way to make an extra buck on the weekends. An active Instagram or Facebook profile can show that the photographer is not afraid to present their work out for the world to see.
Even if a photographer does not have active social media or other internet presence they should have reviews and referrals from more than just 2 or 3 clients. A reference list can further assure you of the photographer’s credibility and give you some insight on what it is like to work with them.
How to Choose a Wedding Photographer: A word of caution.
The issue with the wedding photography industry is that there are no standards or gatekeepers. Anyone with a few good shots can put together a website and declare themselves a photographer. The term “you get what you pay for” is very relevant here. Not to say that there are no amazing photographers out there that charge below average, as well as the fact that not everyone needs world class level photography. However, it is important to know what to expect for you wedding photography experience and know what level of service you are paying for.
The good thing is that you have many options and, armed with the right questions and information, you do not need to settle. You can find a photographer that fits you and your budget perfectly, so get out there, meet some photographers, and ask great questions.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to us. We love talking to couples, not just about our services but anything photography related.